Courses & TravelAugust 27, 2009

Real Golfers: The Deeter Memorial

It wasn't exactly an Ambush entry, but it's a short story about a group of people geeting together to play golf in Indiana this weekend. They have a slightly greater purpose than just going low. Allow me to introduce you to the Deeter Memorial:

Dear Matty G.,

I'm a regular reader of Golf Digest, a weekend golfer, a 17 handicap, a big fan of Ambush and other bloggings, all golf related. Accordingly, I wanted to share a story with you about the upcoming Deeter Memorial Tournament, to be played this weekend. This year marks the 15th year since my grandfather's passing, and the Deeter Memorial takes place on the last weekend of August in his honor.

To frame it for you, we usually have three to five foursomes (our peak year was six groups). The format we play is two best balls of the foursome and we play a $3 nassau. In addition, there are $5 per man skins and there are many side bets within each foursome. We meet for a hearty breakfast at 5:30 a.m. with an old picture of Grandpa placed at the table. [#image: /photos/55ad70bbadd713143b42202e]|||William+Margret+1991.jpg|||By 7:30 a.m. we're all on the practice green putting for $1 "sinks" in groups of two or three. At 8:00, with the gallery watching, the first group tees off on the reachable downhill 290 yard par 4. What a way to start your Saturday! The pressure is palpable and heckling is mandatory for balls hit into the woods. The tournament is held annually at the "venerable" Valley View Golf Course in Middletown, Ind., which measures a full 6,400 yards from the tips. Middletown is located approximately 30 miles from downtown Indianapolis, and is also notably "Rocky Mountain Oyster Capital, USA."

Since my grandfather and his sons were much, much younger, the Deeter boys have made annual treks to play this little patch of hilly hard-pan with bikini waxed greens, and imbibe icy cold beers and breaded Rocky Mountain Oysters. Altogether, the Deeter boys have been heading to Middletown once a summer for over 40 years, spanning across three generations. It's truly a rite of passage into manhood for any member of the family.

After the round the highlight of the day is the presentation of the coveted traveling dollar award. As my grandfather approached his final years, he continued to make the Middletown trip every year and wager with my father and uncles that he would get over the creek in two on the par 5 15th hole at Valley View. The best part is that most of us these days (with our flex shafts, 460 cc drivers, four-piece golf balls, and springboard irons) can get over the creek with a driver and a wedge--we can all easily reach the green in two with two good shots. However, getting over this little obstacle was so important to my grandfather in his later years that today we use an inverse yardage marker to commemorate his wager--the ball closest to the creek, but still over in two, wins the honorary William Award for sportsmanship. Invariably, due to the pressure of the shot, or perhaps because old William is looking down with a smile at just the right moment, someone in the group shanks one on the 15th and barely clears the little monster, thereby keeping the spirit of the William Award intact.

While the day is filled with lots of laughs, some good and some bad golf shots, and an occasional birdie here and there, the real joy comes from all of us honoring the tradition itself, honoring my grandpa by playing a game he truly loved at a course he thoroughly enjoyed, and honoring the meaning of "over the creek in two," in golf and in life.

Your blog invites readers to share stories from time to time. On behalf of the Deeter boys and all past, present, and future players in the Deeter Memorial, I hope our fiddling little tournament and our piddling little story bring a smile to you and other readers. To us, this side of Augusta, this weekend is truly the biggest tournament of the season.

Our picture of Grandpa is attached. Please feel free to use this for your blog, and again, many thanks. Until he left us, Grandpa was always 100 percent committed to getting over the creek in two. He was totally old school, he was tough as nails and along Old State Road 67, between Indianapolis and Valley View Golf Course, he knew every bartender. His warhorse spirit lives on because old soldiers never truly die.

Best regards, Jeffrey M. Deeter

Jeff, thank you for sharing your story. Hit 'em straight out there this weekend. And may you all (just barely) clear the creek.

*--Matty G.

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